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Gov't to spend P6.5B in 2016 for road rehab in 73 provinces, says DBM

DBM Secretary Butch Abad. FILE PHOTO

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MANILA - The government has appropriated P6.5 billion in the 2016 General Appropriations Act (GAA) for the rehabilitation and upgrading of provincial roads in 73 provinces, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said Sunday.

DBM Secretary Florencio Abad said the allocation of funds is performance-based with the recipient provinces chosen on compliance with good governance standards.

”These qualified provinces have not only met good governance standards and social development benchmarks, they have also established monitoring and evaluation mechanisms,” he said.

Dubbed Kalsada (Konkreto at Ayos na Lansangan at Daan Tungo sa Pangkalahatang Kaunlaran), Abad said, the program is “an innovative devolution program that aims to institutionalize good governance by enabling and shepherding local government units on Local Road Management.”

The program will rehabilitate and upgrade provincial roads and transfer these road assets permanently to the provincial government, which will maintain them.

The program will also develop the Provincial Road Network Development Plan (PRNDP) for each province and promote the use of an online open data portal as a mechanism for monitoring and evaluation of provincial roads.

Selection process

Provinces were selected based on their compliance with the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) Seal of Good Financial Housekeeping and submission to the DBM of their Local Public Financial Management Assessment Report.

Allocations were determined by a combination of performance and need criteria, such as inclusion in the Budget Priorities Framework provinces, utilization and completion of local road projects under the Special Local Roads Fund (SLRF), as well as regular appropriation and use of maintenance funds for local roads.

Abad said the P6.5 billion fund has a breakdown per province according to a formula that considers performance and need scores such as previous provincial utilization of SLRF and provincial road network length of the provinces that have complied with the requirements for consideration.

He said he program has put in place a monitoring and evaluation system to ensure that the upgrading and rehabilitation of the roads will be completed.

In collaboration with the World Bank and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the government has created a system that uses geo-tagging for reporting on the status of the projects, according to the DBM head.

He said through the Open Roads Portal, the public can check online which roads have been selected for rehabilitation or upgrading and track the progress of the road project from start to completion.

Online tracking

The Open Roads Portal (www.openroads.gov.ph) will contain the uploaded provincial road network maps, as well as videos of the conditions of priority roads before, during, and after the implementation of Kalsada.

Abad said Kalsada will increase the provinces’ ability to bring their road networks to sustainably-maintainable conditions by incorporating both Public Financial Management and technical criteria developed by the DILG through the Philippine Provincial Road Management Facility (PRMF), an earlier governance reform program to improve the way provincial governments plan, budget, and maintain local infrastructure.

According to Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto, Secretary-General of the League of Provinces of the Philippines and a champion of the program, “This is the first time in Philippine local governance that the government is implementing a national incentive program for local road management to enhance connectivity and economic productivity.”

Chatto added that Kalsada has no precedent as a national-local counterpart to rehabilitate and improve local roads for inclusive growth.

Meanwhile, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson agreed that Kalsada is indeed an exemplar considering that capital funding required to offset road asset depreciation has never been given to provinces.

“Provincial roads are the largest and most important asset being managed by provincial local governments. These road networks link national roads to areas of economic development, allow access to basic services, and serve as important conduits during conflict, crises, and calamities,” Singson said.

“Every time a province undertakes capital works to rehabilitate one kilometer of road, it uses funds that should have funded four to five kilometers of road maintenance. This continuous drain from maintenance funding has effectively cut maintenance funding and asset life-spans in half,” he said.

More roads

Singson added that the cumulative cost of lost asset life is PP11.1 billion per year when computed across all 81 provinces.

The DPWH chief also said provincial, arterial roads, and farm-to-market roads will get the bulk of infrastructure investment in 2017 after completion of all construction and upgrading of national roads and bridges this year.

Likewise, local bridges and roads will be upgraded to ensure the safe use of local infrastructure.

”With the rehabilitation and construction of national roads and bridges throughout the country set to be completed by the end of 2016, arterial provincial roads and farm-to-market roads are next on our priority list. The government will need to invest in approximately 180,000 kilometers of local roads, 32,000 kilometers of provincial roads, 15,000 kilometers in cities, 4,000 kilometers in 1,400 municipalities, and about 129,000 kilometers in the 42,000 barangays across the country,” Singson said.

He added that Kalsada is a strategic investment in local roads and bridges infrastructure -- often referred to as the “missing middle” -- that will have a large impact on making provinces, cities, and municipalities more business-friendly, competitive, and open up opportunities for job creation and livelihood.

These will also greatly address access issues to basic services and in times of natural or man-made calamities and crises.

 

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